I enjoyed this book and it's unique look at the mundane aspects of space travel. However, the title is a tad misleading as the book deals primarily with previous space missions and really speaks very little about aspect particular to a manned mars mission. While still enjoyable I would have like to hear more specifics about future mars missions.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
The book was pretty much in line with some of the other books authored by Mary Roach. She really can make a technical subject more interesting than expected.
However, this one was very preoccupied with the astronauts bodily functions. So kinda cool, but it became a bit of more of the same after a while for me. It was okay.
54 yrs, ,memb 12yrs,library -75%nonfic 10% fiction,15% classics. History, all sciences, bio, classics,diverse other interests.
If your just dying to know what astronauts do with their excretions this is the book for you! If your interests go beyond corpses ( her book STIFF) or the potty habits of astronauts (this crap filled book) you might want to use your credits elsewhere. I'm just trying to think of what low brow desperate attempt for sales her next book will be about. Masturbation stories of the rich and famous perhaps. Guilty pleasures if nothing else. Her books are like car accidents, you cant help but look. Question is... are you willing to pay to look.
It could be dangerous because the narration is sooooo boring and robotic you may fall asleep. It's too bad because the content of the book is pretty good, but the narration is just horrible and near impossible to withstand for more than a few minutes at a time.
I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!
This book is an easy listen. Mary Roach is very like Bill Bryson (not anatomically, but stylistically). She picks a subject to write about, researches it, and then writes the book in an interesting ,educational and funny way. Her subject matter tends to be more confined to science than Bill’s - and generally focusses on the human body. A quote from her nicely sums up her genre: “it's got to have a little science; it's got to have a little history, a little humour—and something gross."
'Packing for Mars' fits the template nicely. She looks at many aspects of space travel: what kind of person is suitable to become an astronaut; what effects does space have on a human, physically and mentally; what is it like to be in zero gravity, etc. In keeping with her propensity to always include ‘gross’ subject matter, she devotes a lot of pages to vomiting and pooing. Motion sickness is a massive problem in space, and most people will be affected to some extent. Vomiting inside a space helmet is really bad news. You can choke on it, it can get in your eyes or block your view by sticking to your visor, and you can’t wipe it away without removing your helmet. The early ‘right stuff’ astronauts were so macho that they tried to tough it out and pretend they weren’t affected, but in the modern era it is seen as a hazard that needs to be acknowledged and tackled.
Pooing in space is similarly complicated. When faeces leaves the rectum it doesn’t travel obediently downhill into a toilet, but just curls up and floats away, unless special steps are taken to contain it – this is all discussed in great detail.
Although you wonder at times if she dwells for disproportionately long spells on such ‘gross’ topics, the book is genuinely interesting and educational, and made me think and learn a lot about some subjects I’d never thought about before. The book has a tendency to meander around in a slightly random way, a bit like a turd in zero gravity, but it’s a good listen.
I've already replayed the section on zero-gravity toilet facilities for my son. It's very informative and also hilarious
Well, I'd never thought about the fact that a person's internal organs are suspended in the body. Gravity significantly defines our figures. So in zero gravity, the organs tend to float upwards, leading to skinny waists and bloated upper bodies. There are lots of other things to think about, like zero-gravity bone loss or motion sickness and what to do if you vomit inside your space suit. You can't reach up and wipe your face, and with no gravity to keep the puke at the bottom of the helmet bowl, it can be a real hazard. Fascinating.
I don't remember. I can say, though, that after listening to this, I was about to get "Spook," Roach's book about scientific experiments on the afterlife. Another subscriber had commented that the reader there was too heavy-handed, loading up Roach's writing with her own overdone delivery. So I didn't order that.
I think the best approach with most good books is to get out of the way and let the story tell itself. This reader did seem to enjoy the material, but she had the good sense not to get in the way.
I laughed a lot. I can't say that I was absolutely moved by Roach's concluding chapter, where she makes her case for spending more money on space exploration, but that's because it was so little poetry and so much just good solid reasoning. It left me thinking not, "This is inspirational," but "This is our job. This is what we need to put our money into, to make sure we do it right, because our future depends on it."
One of the nice things about this book is its commonsense foundation. It treats space exploration as something we are going to do, something practical, not some romantic once-in-a-lifetime movie but real, day-to-day work, carried out by human beings, something we can all have a part in. It made me think of the Vikings pushing off for Greenland, or of people like Magellan. By showing the practicalities of life in space, many of which are similar to the inconveniences and compromises and seamanship of shipboard life on the ocean, Roach helps to advance the public discussion of day-to-day space voyaging.
Very, very occasionally, Roach makes one joke or pun too many and I think to myself, "oh, come on. This is funny enough on its own." But that's a very small objection.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Mary Roach explores everything from sex to bowel movements in her outer space travel guide, “Packing for Mars”. Roach participates in some NASA training to get a first hand experience of what it takes to be a space traveler. She experiences weightlessness in 22 second intervals. She floats like a butterfly while some of her space mates puke breakfast and lunch.
Roach does use humor to explain what space travel takes but looking past the humor one is overwhelmed by the gap between current science and technology and human travel to other planets.
I really enjoined this book, it was entertaining and informative. The only thing that kept me from giving it 5 stars is that Roach goes off on some tangents in this, I mean she really gets to the bottom of stuff - almost to a fault.
I expected to learn a lot, but this book is not really geared for engineering and science types. More discussion about vomit and astronaut toilet activities than I expected or wanted.
A lot of the vomit and 'ejecta' talk.
Should really be called "Gross Astronaut Trivia for Non-Scientists".
There were a few interesting tidbits in this book. It is ostensibly a serious book about space travel and going to mars but it felt more like a book written for teenagers. To that point, the author is fascinated with 'poop', 'pee' and sex in space. Clearly these are topics that are important, especially if you are planning a long term trip in outer space, but I was looking for something with a little more substance. I'll categorize it as recreational reading where you gain a few answers to trivial pursuit questions.